Back in the heady days of the 1960s, the Beatles were one of the first British bands to publicly admit their love of marijuana and psychedelics to the world. Fifty years later, one former Beatle still has pounds of high-quality cannabis on hand — but this time, it's the legal, non-psychoactive variety.
In a recent interview with the River Cafe Table 4 podcast, Sir Paul McCartney casually mentioned that he was growing organic hemp on his estate in southeastern England. But unlike his days of youthful indiscretions, the singer is fully complying with the law this time. Hemp cultivation is perfectly legal in the UK, as long as farmers apply for an official cultivation license and follow the government's strict regulations to the letter.
“We're actually just getting into growing hemp,” said McCartney, according to The Daily Mail. “The funny thing with government regulations is you've got to keep it where people can't see it, because you get all the kids coming in and robbing it!”
It's nearly impossible to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana just by look and smell alone, and this confusion has led many thieves to unsuspectingly raid hemp farms looking for weed. Thieves have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of hemp plants from legal cultivators in Colorado, Washington, and other US states, mistakenly believing that they were making off with tons of dank bud. Cops have even been caught out bragging about making huge weed busts, only to find that they had seized perfectly legal hemp shipments.
McCartney's new hemp crop is sprouting up alongside the organic spelt wheat, rye, hops, and peas that his family has been growing for decades. “I went organic over 20 years ago,” he said, The Daily Mail reports. “When I first bought the farm there were some fields where my farm guys would say, 'There's no worms in these fields. There's no life.' That's because basically all you did was put on pesticides and then put a fertilizer in. I thought, 'OK, that's a challenge, we're going to go organic.'”
The UK actually produces more legal cannabis than any other European country, but the vast majority of this crop is low-THC hemp. In addition to industrial use, this hardy plant is mainly grown to harvest CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. And although medical marijuana is technically legal, government officials have only granted a handful of licenses to companies wishing to grow high-THC flower for medical use.
It's been more than two years since Britain legalized medical marijuana, but the country is still lagging far behind the US and Canada. Despite having a home-grown hemp industry, health officials have only gotten around to approving two cannabis medicines for very specific, rare medical conditions. Because of this, many families are still forced to import extremely expensive CBD-derived medicine from the Netherlands.